The current Aer Lingus frequent flyer programme is called Gold Circle Club and it appears to be designed to primarily reward people who fly transatlantic on a regular basis. The earning for people flying regularly throughout Europe is low to non-existent as there are a variety of fare classes which are ineligible for points earning.
The programme is much maligned by Irish frequent flyers including myself. When you join, you become an ‘Applicant’ which means you’re not a member of the club until you fly enough to get on the bottom rung. When you achieve that you receive a membership card and are an official member.
One year I flew Aer Lingus 24 times and I did not earn enough points to get on the bottom rung of the programme. Rather than continue that madness, I switched to the British Airways Executive Club. Many people in Ireland have done this as earning on British Airways and the oneworld alliance is far more beneficial than joining the home airline’s programme.
Fast forward to 2015 and we have Aer Lingus purchased by International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. Not too long after this, Aer Lingus announced that Gold Circle was going to be retired and they would be introducing the Aer Club.
The Aer Club will be using Avios which is the same currency (miles) that British Airways, Iberia, Flybe and Meridiana currently use. Earning Avios will be based on spend which makes Aer Club earning based similar to programmes in the USA. Moving up the tiers above will be based on both spend and frequency of spend. Further details have not yet been announced.
For the first time there will be an Irish programme that will allow earning on retail, hotels and car hire, which is great news. It’s expected that Ireland’s biggest grocery chain will be a partner for example. Personally, I’m hoping there is an opportunity to earn via credit card spend which is a lucrative earner in other airlines programmes.
Despite the new owners, Aer Lingus are still failing to deliver projects in a timely manner. The original closure date for Gold Circle was 31 March 2016 with the Aer Club commencing on 1 April 2016. This was pushed back to 1 July 2016 and now has been moved to an indefinite date “towards the end of 2016” according to an e-mail I received from Aer Lingus. The marketing spin is the delay is to ensure the programme is perfect when it launches. We shall see.
Naturally everyone is waiting to see what the earning and burning criteria will be, along with the partners. The delay is a little inexcusable because it makes Aer Lingus look like rookies in the aviation business. The available images in the press section of their Corporate web site don’t help to dispel this feeling either – when I was looking for images for this post, I rolled my eyes at the poor selection of media that bloggers had available to them.
Hopefully the programme, when it’s launched, will be an excellent programme and I can go back to flying Aer Lingus and actually being rewarded for doing so. I’m not going to hold my breath though!